Science Isn’t A Matter For Public Opinion

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scene of science people doing scienceThis past week, the Tribeca Film Festival tried to show a film about the ‘bad effects’ of vaccinations on children. The film was written and directed by the scientist who was rebuked for making false claims in a paper he wrote. The festival rightly was pummeled in the press for giving the charlatan a platform to spew his false narrative. When it comes to settled science there is no room for public opinion.

The movie is directed by the discredited researcher Andrew Wakefield whose fraudulent paper (later retracted by The Lancet) led to the belief that vaccines cause autism.

A spokesperson for the festival told the L.A. Times that the movie was included for the sake of debate and discussion and that “Over the years we have presented many films from opposing sides of an issue. We are a forum, not a judge.” Robert De Niro, the actor who co-founded the Festival, added that he was “only providing the opportunity for a conversation around the issue.”

Needless to say, there’s no need for debate when the scientific community has found no credible link between vaccines and autism. Wakefield is alone in thinking otherwise and his theory isn’t supported by any evidence. His film would only serve to spread unnecessary panic, leading ignorant parents to make harmful decisions for their children (and community).

After Public Outcry, Tribeca Film Festival Removes Anti-Vaccination Film from Lineup

This wasn’t a documentary that would present the evidence from “both sides” and let the viewer decide which side they supported. This was a one-sided film by the guy who had his behind handed to him for the fake study he did.

There are several areas of science that are considered “settled” meaning those areas aren’t being debated or examined in depth because the “answers” have been discovered.

Where the science is settled – like there being no connection between vaccines and autism – there is no need for further debate or expression of opinion.

The Big Think website has a list of other settled areas of science:

Many Americans are being misled on serious scientific issues, and science journalists have to spend an inordinate amount of time debunking myths which seemingly never die.

Some people object to this, claiming that nothing is ever truly “settled” in science, and therefore, everything is open for debate. While that’s technically true, there are a multitude of issues in which the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of one side of the argument.

1. Evolution Unites All of Biology

Evolution by natural selection is such a rock solid concept, that it is one of the ten greatest ideas in all of science. Opposition to the idea is particularly strong in the United States, which ranks near the bottom among westernized countries in terms of acceptance.

. . .

10. GMOs Are Safe

The public is bombarded with incorrect, and often blatantly dishonest, information about GMOs, or genetically-modified organisms.

10 Examples of Settled Science that Are ‘Controversial’

Arguing about these settled areas makes about as much sense as getting your medical advice from your Grandma Smith. It won’t change anything and could possibly kill you.

Sciences, like medicine and economics, aren’t something open to amateur practitioners who think they know more than the people whose job it is know this stuff (and have gone through years of training and schooling). Do you think someone watching a couple of YouTube videos would be better at brain surgery than a Doctor with years of training?

Science, as much as anything, is open to new information but in most of those areas, like vaccines, the “new” information is just second or third hand bunk being passed around by so-called experts on the Internet.

User beware! Keep that in mind if Aunt Jean sends you a link about some new medical cure published on the Huffington Post.

The anit-intellectualism inherent in “discussion” of these settled areas of science can lead to laws against LGBT people like we saw in North Carolina.


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